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1931-1946: We meet crisis in the Depression, and again in World War II

The 1929 stock market crash and the Depression that followed changed the relationship between citizens and their government. Americans looked to Franklin Delano Roosevelt to save the nation from economic disaster. Roosevelt responded with the New Deal, which used the powers of the federal government as never before to create jobs and regulate the economy. The American people backed the New Deal, but not everyone agreed with FDR’s approach. Critics charged that New Deal programs interfered with property rights and invaded the jurisdiction of the states, raising questions that echo today. The Supreme Court initially rejected key New Deal programs, but eventually upheld its sweeping changes in government. Then came another crisis – World War II and an enemy who threatened the liberties America stood for. Though the war overseas was fought for freedom, fears at home led the government to deprive more than 100,000 Japanese Americans of their liberty and property. When the fighting ended in 1945, freedom had been preserved for many people around the world, and the groundwork was established for future civil rights struggles at home.

  March 3, 1931
On this day “Star Spangled Banner” becomes official national anthem
October 29, 1931
The Depression hits hard, but Hoover’s against federal relief
January 16, 1933
A “New Deal” transforms American government
January 23, 1933
Ratification of the Twentieth Amendment changes inauguration date of presidents from March to January
  March 4, 1933
On this day Franklin D. Roosevelt inaugurated as president
  March 12, 1933
On this day President Roosevelt delivers first of “fireside chats”
  May 17, 1933
On this day Congress passes National Industrial Recovery Act, creating the National Recovery Administration (NRA)
  June 16, 1933
On this day “Hundred Days” Congress passes its last New Deal measure
December 5, 1933
States ratify Twenty-First Amendment
December 5, 1933
Ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment ends Prohibition
  June 6, 1934
On this day Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) created
WWI veteran and civil rights leader Charles Hamilton Houston begins five-year term as NAACP general counsel
May 27, 1935
It’s a bad day for the New Deal at the Supreme Court
  July 5, 1935
On this day National Labor Relations Act is enacted, protecting workers’ rights to organize unions and bargain collectively
  August 14, 1935
On this day Congress passes Social Security Act, establishing pensions for persons aged 65 and older
  January 6, 1936
On this day Supreme Court, in U.S. v. Butler, rules Agricultural Adjustment Act unconstitutional
  March 29, 1937
On this day Supreme Court sustains constitutionality of minimum-wage legislation in West Coast Hotel v. Parrish
  April 12, 1937
On this day Supreme Court, in NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Co., upholds constitutionality of National Labor Relations Act
July 23, 1937
A victorious FDR tries to reorganize the Court; the country says “No”
  April 25, 1938
On this day Justice Stone’s footnote in U.S. v. Carolene Products lays basis for court’s heightened scrutiny of laws affecting personal rights
  June 25, 1938
On this day Fair Labor Standards Act establishes minimum wage and forty-hour workweek for many workers
July 15, 1940
FDR seeks an uprecedented third term...and starts a national debate
  April 9, 1939
On this day Marian Anderson, barred from singing at Constitution Hall by Daughters of the American Revolution, sings at Lincoln Memorial
February 3, 1941
Another New Deal win in Court: Congress can set wages and hours
  April 25, 1940
On this day Supreme Court, in first flag-salute case, upholds constitutionality of mandatory flag salutes in public schools
  November 5, 1940
On this day President Roosevelt defeats Wendell Wilkie, reelected to unprecedented third term
March 11, 1941
The President is claiming more power in foreign affairs
  December 8, 1941
On this day Following attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. enters World War II
February 23, 1942
Radio brings the President into our living rooms
  June 2, 1943
On this day Benjamin O. Davis leads first all black squadron of U.S. Army Air Corps into combat
June 14, 1943
Can the government force us to salute the flag?
  June 22, 1944
On this day Congress passes “G.I. Bill,” establishing programs to secure housing and education for veterans
December 18, 1944
“Persons of Japanese ancestry” have been sent to relocation camps
August 14, 1945
War’s over! Americans celebrate across the nation
  October 18, 1945
On this day Nuremberg War Crime Trials begin; military and political leaders of Nazi Germany prosecuted for crimes against humanity
Harold Raymond Medina presides over trial of eleven U.S. Communist Party leaders

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